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Pittsfield City Council Still Stuck On Tax Rate Plan

Councilors sit in behind the city hall rostrum
Josh Landes
The scene inside city hall Tuesday night

A Pittsfield, Massachusetts city council stalemate extended into a second consecutive meeting Tuesday.

A disagreement over how much of the city’s unused tax money to apply toward lowering the 2020 tax rates is at the heart of the impasse. The council voted to reject a compromise plan from Mayor Linda Tyer for $750,000, between the $500,000 she proposed on November 12th and the $1 million some councilors want.

“Either the mayor is going to have to change her side or someone from the council is going to have to recognize the ramifications if they don’t get their way," said city council president Peter Marchetti. "I think the mayor put out a compromise of $750,000, and the compromise keeps changing. So if I was the mayor going from $750,000 to $1 million, how do I know they’re not going to ask $1.5 million after I make that next compromise?”

The estimated savings for homeowners on the $1 million plan would be $19.63 per $1,000 of home value. Taxes are projected to increase around 6% in 2020. The city has already committed $750,000 from its $6.3 million free cash reserves to lessen the blow to taxpayers. If Pittsfield doesn’t get the tax bills out by the end of the year, it could lead to the city being short on funding heading into 2020. The council meets again Tuesday.

Josh Landes has been WAMC's Berkshire Bureau Chief since February 2018, following stints at WBGO Newark and WFMU East Orange. A passionate advocate for Western Massachusetts, Landes was raised in Pittsfield and attended Hampshire College in Amherst, receiving his bachelor's in Ethnomusicology and Radio Production. His free time is spent with his cat Harry, experimental electronic music, and exploring the woods.
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